WASHINGTON, DC — The American Hellenic Institute (AHI) has issued a statement on Turkish aggression in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ):

News reports of Turkish warships blocking a rig belonging to Italian energy firm ENI from reaching Cypriot waters to start exploring for gas is the latest in a recent string of Turkish aggression in the eastern Mediterranean, which AHI strongly condemns.  In recent years, Turkey has violated international law by practicing “gunboat diplomacy” in the eastern Mediterranean with incursions into Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone.  To further illustrate Turkey’s history of provocation, Turkey issued a Navtex in April 2017, stating its coverage not only included Cyprus’ EEZ, but it also extended into a part of Cyprus’ territorial waters.  Adding to these examples is Turkey’s intensified military presence in an area stretching south from Rhodes to the coast of Paphos in Cyprus and the issuance of three consecutive Notices to Airmen (NOTAM) for military exercises over Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus.

The Republic of Cyprus has the sovereign right under international law to explore and exploit its natural resources within its exclusive economic zone.  The United States has stated repeatedly it supports Cyprus’ sovereign right to explore energy in its offshore areas.  In addition, Turkish aggression in Cyprus’ EEZ presents an endangerment to U.S. companies, such as ExxonMobil and Noble Energy, who have been, or will be, working to explore for hydrocarbons in the eastern Mediterranean.

Egypt and the European Union have rebuked Turkey’s most recent action to block ENI’s rig from reaching Cypriot waters. Today, Turkish President Erdogan threatened that Cyprus, Greece, and the companies, which are in the process of exploring for energy resources, should not “step out of line” and that Cyprus’ strength will only last until “they see our ships and our planes.” Therefore, we call on President Donald Trump to condemn, in the strongest terms, Turkey for its series of aggressive actions that have occurred in the island’s exclusive economic zone during the past year, and its president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, for his bellicose rhetoric to Cyprus, Greece, and international companies.